Xbox Focuses on Gamers’ Sense of Self Expression
At 35,000 square feet, it was massive, yes. But it was also integrated, a live translation of the marketing blitz that would follow.
Xbox’s stand at the 2005 E3 show leveraged the look, feel, vibe and messaging of the TV spots, radio ads and online elements that would ignite the 360’s overall marketing platform. “It was not a trade show booth. It was a marketing tool,” says Ron Caruso, Purepartner by Design’s cofounder. “That’s the difference.”
Rather than focus on the 360’s technology, the exhibit focused on the human qualities of the gaming system and gamers’ sense of self expression. Inspired by the Ralph Waldo Emerson essay “Circles,” the booth was envisioned as a Central Park in the city that was E3.
Using lighting and imagery and tailoring demos to evoke the personalities of the games they supported, Microsoft was able to stand out from the crowd. The footprint featured destinations, such as an “observatory” and an “aviary,” inventive abstractions of familiar elements of major public green spaces. The theater, for instance, featured upholstered incline seating to give attendees the feeling that they were watching a performance in a park. To enter the two-story monolith, attendees had to trek across the 250-foot-long steel pedestrian bridge that was built along a 120-foot-long high-def video wall.
“We had to make some noise,” says April McKee, senior global event manager at Xbox. “And that’s exactly what we did.”
The project served as quite the statement for Xbox, which was trying to create a new positioning statement, with gamers as part of a community instead of lone soldiers with joysticks. It also served as a proper coming out for Purepartner by Design, the eight-person studio that won the project amid a shootout boasting several heavy hitters.
Xbox received more press coverage than its rivals, and 90 days after the show, the company was on track to sell more than three million units.